Deborah’s Murder: File Charges Reflecting Gravity of Situation, NBA Tells Sokoto Govt

•Postpones conference billed for Sokoto in honour of deceased 

•We are taken aback by fanatical support given the callous action by top religious leaders, highly placed govt officials, lawyers, says AFBA 

•Adeboye shelves planned Sokoto crusade

Alex Enumah

The leadership of the umbrella body for lawyers in the country, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday called on the Government of Sokoto State to demonstrate seriousness and willingness in its prosecution of alleged culprits in the murder of a young Christian student in the state by ensuring that charges preferred against the defendants were true reflection of the gravity of the offense of murder.

This was just as the African Bar Association (AFBA), in a statement signed by its President, Hannibal Uwaifo, obtained

Yesterday, stated that it was completely taken aback by the fanatical support given to the callous action by top religious leaders, highly placed government officials and even lawyers.

Also, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has postponed a crusade scheduled to hold in Sokoto State, due to the incident.

The NBA in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Olumide

Akpata, expressed concern over the level of degeneration in the country stating that it had further exposed the weakness in the country’s, “security architecture, tested our collective resolve as a people, and significantly threatened the unity of Nigeria as a nation”.

While, Miss Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was cruelly murdered by some of her school mates for alleged blasphemy last Thursday, the news of the gruesome killing of security personnel by “unknown gunmen” was reported in the south-east, followed by the lynching of a young man (simply identified as David) by commercial motorcyclists around Lekki; Lagos State was reported.

A legal team of 34 lawyers, led by a law lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Mansur Ibrahim, had on Monday appeared in defence of two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, arraigned over the murder of Deborah. The court appearance came as Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, relaxed a 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis as a result of protest by irate Muslim youths opposing prosecution of the murder suspects.

In the First Information Report (FIR), Prosecuting Police Officer, Inspector Khalil Musa, told the court that the suspects were accused of participating in disturbance act that led to the death of Deborah.

The NBA, while expressing sadness and condemnation over the spate of extra-judicial killings in any part of the country described it as reprehensible, barbaric and unacceptable and called on security agencies and government to immediately move to checkmate the menace.

“The government should immediately commence the prosecution of all suspects involved in these brutal and arbitrary killings in order to send a strong signal that such acts will no longer be tolerated in Nigeria.

“The NBA also believes that the prompt and effective prosecution of the alleged killers will instill confidence in the citizens, promote accountability, and signpost the government’s commitment to the rule of law.

“With particular reference to the murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu and related developments in Sokoto, we note that some arrests have been made by the Nigeria Police and that the suspects are now being prosecuted. We are, however, worried by yet-to-be confirmed reports reaching us that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace in an episode that cut short Deborah’s life in her prime.

“The NBA is strongly opposed to a banalisation of the situation, and if these reports are true, then we call on the Sokoto State Government to immediately rethink its prosecution strategy and file charges that truly reflect the gravity of the situation”, the statement read in part.

While observing that expectation of Nigerians and the international community was that the culprits are brought to justice speedily for the appropriate offences, Akpata remarked that the demand for the release of the suspects by some protesting youths coupled with assault on innocent citizens, burning of worship centres and destruction of property had added an entirely new and worrisome dimension to the unfortunate incident.

Akpata disclosed that following the development the NBA has decided to postpone the 2022 NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) billed for Sokoto State in honour of Miss Deborah Yakubu.

 “Accordingly, the Executive Committee of NBA-SPIDEL came to the painful decision to request, and I have approved, that the 2022 NBA-SPIDEL Annual Conference be postponed not only for the safety of our conferees and guests, but as a mark of respect for the memory of the slain Miss Deborah Yakubu”, the NBA President said.

Fanatical Support Given to Deborah’s Alleged Murders Worries AFBA

In a related development, the African Bar Association said it received with deep shock and awe the gruesome murder of the female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education by her fellow students in what it described as “a senseless crime orchestrated and supported by religious bigots.”

“As if this heinous crime is not enough to shake the foundations of any decent society, the association is completely taken aback by the fanatical support given to this callous action by top religious leaders, highly placed government officials and

even Lawyers.

“The position of the African Bar Association is that no matter the provocation or whatever offence is alleged to have been committed by the murdered Deborah, resort to actions outside the law is not only irresponsible but a call to anarchy,” the association stated.

It pointed out that the latest development was an affront on any civilised society and called for immediate decisive response by law enforcement agency.

According to AFBA, the uncivilised and criminal response of rioting and destroying public and private properties in response to the arrest of some of the alleged perpetrators of the dastardly act showed how desperate fanaticism could lead.

“The response of the Government of Sokoto State to the growing carnage is however commended and more should be done to check these lawlessness and restore public confidence in government and due process.

“The African Bar Association calls for the hunt down and diligent prosecution of those fully or remotely connected with this grievous crime. The gory photos and live videos circulating round the world of this incident has added a further devastating blow to the already dented image of Nigeria as a responsible country in the comity of civilised world.

“We join the world to condemn the gruesome murder of Ms. Deborah Samuel and insist that the full wrath of the Law be brought to bear on the perpetrators. # JUSTICE FOR DEBORAH,” it added.

Adeboye  Postpones Sokoto Crusade over Murder of Deborah Samuel

Meanwhile, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has postponed a crusade scheduled to hold in Sokoto State following the killing of the female student.

The crusade titled, ‘Light Up Sokoto Crusade,’ was scheduled to hold physically in the north-west state from May 16 to 17, 2022.  

However, Adeboye announced the postponement of the crusade in a Facebook post on Monday night, saying the shifting of the programme became necessary due to the unrest in the state.

According to him, the planned religious event would now hold virtually at a later date.

He wrote: “Postponed but God turned it around. We Trust in Our God’s Big Picture Plan! When God turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. We serve a God who specialises in using the impossible situation for his glory.

 “If you are in doubt, look closely at the death and resurrection of Jesus! Devil thought he killed Him, but His death and resurrection resulted into life for many. He keeps turning it around for our good. It is in this might that we proceed!”

The Christian Association of Nigeria had called for a nationwide protest slated for May 22 to demand justice for the slain Sokoto student, even as her murder continued to attract widespread anger.

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